Lucia's Blog: August 2014
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SEEKING AFTER THE LORD

"Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ´For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 'For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.'" 
Isaiah 55:6-11


Our God teaches us something about the nature of His Word by using an illustration of how the rain brings a good harvest. Farmers know well that rain is necessary for the nourishment of plants if they are to survive and thrive. God with this illustration is showing us that it is vital for us to listen to His Word that we may grow and bear good fruit. God wants us to thirst for the living water which is His Word that leads us to righteousness. 

His Word sanctifies us making us pure. As essential as light is for abundant life so is the Word of God in our lives. Our God wants us to walk in the light of His Word,"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105. This is why He sent His only begotten Son so that He might bring light and new life to us. God provides everything that we need through His everlasting Word to feed us with righteousness, but we must allow His righteous Word to dictate and guide us. If we humbly seek Him and surrender to His will, we may find favor in His sight. God is Holy and demands that we be holy. God's ways and thoughts are not like ours thus we must learn to be like Him in order to be partakers of His divine nature.  

So my question is, how can one find God?  By simply seeking diligently God's invitation; by accepting the duty of seeking; by not resisting it; by wanting to know God and do His will.

Let us consider some thoughts about God's pardon and favor toward us when we are seeking Him:
  1. God offers us salvation by inviting us to come and partake on His gift at no cost to us since His Son has already paid the ransom for us.  This free gift is called Grace.  Jesus already purchased us by His blood.  Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."  John 6:44.  Notice that this invitation of pardon that the Father is offering to us is through His everlasting Word.  This is the only way of salvation: by accepting his invitation, this free gift.  
  2. God's pardon, Grace, carries conditions which we are required to meet.  These conditions are vital to obtaining such Grace or pardon.  Consider these conditions:
    • Hear the GospelActs 11:14; James 1:21;I Cor. 1:18-21; 15:2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2:20
    • Believe the GospelRomans 1:16; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9
    • Repent of sinsActs 5:31; 2 Cor. 7:10
    • Confess Jesus as Lord, Romans 10:9-10
    • Be baptized for forgiveness of sinsMark 16:15,16; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3 and Acts 2:38
    • Live a faithful life unto deathMatthew 10:22; Acts 2:47; Eph.1:13; 5:23,25; 2 Thess. 2:10,13; Heb. 10:39; I Cor. 1:21; 15:2ff; I Tim. 4:16; Tit. 3:5; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 8:11-12.  
His Grace will be secured if meet all of His conditions or requirements.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable Grace!

God calls us through His everlasting Word to a cleansing of our mind and heart.  What that means is that we must be willing to put away all sin.  This is the only way to turn our hearts toward Him.  His Word is alive and can penetrate the soul and the spirit by changing our way of thinking and our intentions into righteousness.  The Word can cleanse the hearts of all men bringing them into newness of life, but man must humbly accept the remedy for the illness of the heart called sin.

God's ways and thoughts are not like ours although we are made in His image.  For those who have been forgiven and have received pardon and Grace, our hope is to become like Him, perfect, holy.  His Word restores our souls to perfection if we indeed know Him and want to be like Him.  There is no other way! God's Word endlessly transforms us.  God's Truth or everlasting Word does not return to Him void.  His Word regenerates us according to the character of God.  Our transformation or the renewing of our mind and soul is like a metamorphosis.  This can only be accomplished through the Word of God, His Truth.  His Word gives us excellence.  And this excellency of His Holy Word is seen in us if we abide in it and obey it.

The Word of God offers us many benefits such a peace, freedom, trust, purity, love, joy and hope.  But we must love it and let it bear good fruit or good results in our hearts.  If we use God's Word according to His will, it can prosper us and make us rich.  God's Word will not return to Him void.

In conclusion, let us show a heart that diligently seeks after God.  God is near to those who are seeking from their heart.  He will not let them down.  Let us take advantage of God's invitation and take freely from the river of the water of life.  Let us eat freely of the tree of life which is offered to those who want to wash their robes and enter the gates of the city, the heavenly Jerusalem, His church.  
"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever."  Revelation 22:1-5
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.  Revelation 22:17
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."  Revelation 21:6-7

May the Lord help us to faithfully present His Holy Word to our lost and dying world that they may know the peace and freedom that we have come to know through that Everlasting Word.

Luci



Monday, August 18, 2014

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!




I love this hymn!  It was written by Horatio Spafford.  I am pretty sure most of us are quite familiar with the hymn, "It is well with my soul."  I love it, not only for its wonderful message, but because of the history behind it.  Horatio and his wife lived in Chicago with their five children.  He was a successful business man and was dedicated as a follower of Christ.  In 1871 during the great Chicago fire, he lost everything.  And then to make things worse, a little while after that, his wife had health problems due to the loss of one of their children, a son.  He planned a trip for her to help her emotionally.  He couldn't make the trip due to a business commitment he had, so his wife and four daughters sailed on the French steamer without him.  The ship sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Anna, his wife, survived, but his daughters drowned.  In the throes of such a tragedy, he wrote this famous hymn. "When peace, life a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, with my soul."

Maybe, you and I, have not lost our children, but some of us have. Tragedies like this often rob us of our peace. It may be debilitating health, death, great financial losses, rebellious children, unbearable conflicts in our marriage, or brethren.... We must remember to turn our hearts toward the Lord as Horatio did: there is true peace to be found. Divine peace that surpasses our terrible circumstances and so often passes our own understanding, "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7.  Divine peace can only be given by God, He who told us how to think, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:8-9.  Jesus, our Lord, puts tranquility in our hearts, no matter what our circumstances may be, no matter the difficult storms in our lives that rage furiously all around us.  Trusting in Him will not only lead us to a perfect, divine peace, but also to an abundant thankfulness.  It will help us to learn more about the greatness of our Lord God Almighty.

Let's not let our circumstances, whether difficult or not, rob us or keep us from holding fast and drawing nearer to our Father in heaven.  He is our everlasting hope.  In Him we have that peace like a river that attendeth our way!


Luci



"It Is Well With My Soul"


When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul



Thursday, August 14, 2014

EUNICE'S 13TH BIRTHDAY


Behold, children are a  gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed …. “ Psalm 127:3-5


Letter to my precious 13-year-old daughter, Eunice

My sweet Eunice, the thought of you becoming a "teenager" exhilarates and appalls me both in equal portions.

There is a part of me that is thrilled that you are becoming a young lady (teenager) since I can observe the fine and godly young lady you are becoming. My heart is filled with so much joy and pride. My sweet girl, you bring and have brought so much gentleness, adventure, joy, laughter and grace into our lives. You bring gentleness to my mothering. I count myself blessed. I love the way you show your love for me, your mama, your siblings, your daddy and others.  You portray it in ways I could never have imagined when I was your age. When you,my sweet darling, tell me that you want to be just like me when you are grown up, I then realize that mothering has its blessings. I love the way you show your love and care for others. Your big heart! You make my life fuller. You are indeed full of grace and gentleness and I want you to remain that way all of your life. My sweet little girl, you will always be my baby girl. Stay beautiful in heart and soul just the way you are. Never change!


I am so glad you are my daughter and my sister in Christ.  Our relationship reminds me so much of the one I had with my own mother, simply beautiful.  My mother touched  me and left footprints in my heart and soul with a love for God.  My hope and prayer to God is that I might leave the same imprints on your heart.  Your abuela's works follow her and  through me they live in you for generations to come.   We have so much to share and rejoice about since we share in the same faith and hope of salvation. My sweet Eunice, my prayer is that Christ clothes your heart in a garment of grace. Remember this is the only garment that will make you into His image, simply beautiful in His eyes.

May our Lord always nourish and satisfy that hunger you have for righteousness. May you crave more of Christ. May you always be in fellowship with Him and He in you. May He give you of His abundance and make you live a richer and fuller life of faith. May He use you to mend the brokenness of those who are ill because of sin. May your example be their inspiration to walk in the Light. May you show grace freely the same way our Lord has shown to you and all of us. I have no doubt in my heart you will be a worthy servant of His, laboring in His Vineyard.

My sweet baby Eunice, you are incredibly loved and valued. Don't ever forget that. I thank the Lord for these beautiful 13 years He has given me as your mama. You are my most beautiful and precious gift sent from heaven after my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Happy 13th Birthday my sweet and precious Eunice!

With all my heart and soul,

Your mama



Monday, August 11, 2014

II SAMUEL - DAVID - PART TWO




ESTIMATED TIMELINE FOR SAUL, DAVID AND SOLOMON

1360-1085 BC The time of the Judges
1051 BC Saul's reign begins
1040 BC David is born
1011 BC Saul and his three sons are killed on Mount Gilboa.  David is anointed king of Judah, the southern kingdom
1004 BC David is anointed king of all Israel.  David moves his capital to Jerusalem
961 BC Solomon's reign begins
922 BC Israel divides into two kingdoms


GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  DAVID (PART II)

The Book of II Samuel records the time of David’s reign as king of Israel.  It deals with David's rise in power first in Judah and later on in Israel, II Samuel 1-8.  The Book ends with David's sin and the terrible consequences of his actions, II Samuel 9-24.


DAVID'S RISE AS KING

  • David Laments Saul's Death (II Samuel 1)
David indeed proves to be a true man of God by forgiving every grievance against the king.  Remember how Saul pursued, threatened and betrayed David and even tried to kill him time after time.  David showed noble character when he mourned the death of a man who hunted him like an animal and tried to kill him so many times.  He did this because he firmly believed that Saul was God's anointed king, chosen by God.  David remained faithful to his king because he was also the father of his beloved friend Jonathan.  Father and son had died together on the battlefield.  David always honored Saul when he was in his presence.  Remember that David had sung for Saul, fought for Saul and killed for Saul.  After Saul's death, David honored him as well as his three sons with great lament.

  • David Becomes King over Judah and Israel (II Samuel 2-5:1-3)

After Saul's death, David is anointed king over Judah in the southern city of Hebron, this being the largest Hebrew city.  David immediately made an effort to unite the kingdom by reaching out to those who were loyal to king Saul.  But Abner, Saul's former army commander had not forgotten the rivalry between Saul and David.  Instead of supporting David, he decided to appoint Saul's son Ish-Bosheth (the name means "man of shame") king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, even over all Israel.  He was forty years old and was king over Israel for two years.  However, the house of Judah followed David as their king.  David was king in Judah for seven and a half years.  It is clear that Ish-Bosheth was not a good fighter or leader for his father's throne, Saul.

This brought on a civil war between the northern tribes and the southern tribes, as Abner led the northern army against the southern army which fought under the leadership of David's nephew, Joab. The two sides met by the pool of Gibeon each on one side.  They sat and agreed to settle the conflict among them by allowing twelve warriors for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth, and twelve of the servants of David to hold a contest and fight before them.  The battle was very severe and ended almost immediately as soon as all twenty four warriors killed each other.  Therefore, that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.  


The contest was a total failure as well as a tragedy that settled nothing.  It only brought on a fierce war. Eventually Joab was victorious.  Abner's forces began to retreat when they realized they were being defeated.  Joab had two brothers, Abishai and Asahel.   His younger brother Asahel pursued Abner fiercely  but carelessly.  Abner tried to plead with him, but he would not relent or turn aside from following him.  Abner thrust his spear behind him and struck Asahel dead.  This brought on another battle of revenge.  Both Joab and Abishai chased Abner until he finally pled for them to stop the bloodshed saying,  "Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the end? How long will you refrain from telling the people to turn back from following their brothers?'  Joab responded, 'As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then the people would have gone away in the morning, each from following his brother.'  So Joab blew the trumpet; and all the people halted and pursued Israel no longer, nor did they continue to fight anymore.'"  Afterward both men along with their armies went their way.  Abner and his men went to Manahaim and Joab and his men returned to Hebron.

The war between the house of Saul and the house of David continued.  David grew steadily stronger while the house of Saul grew continually weaker.  David's following increased and so also his family.  The number of his wives and sons grew as he began forming alliances with the surrounding kingdoms and with all the important families through marriage, "Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron."  I Samuel 3:2-5.

Ish-bosheth accused Abner, his primary supporter, of sleeping with his father's concubine.  This accusation made Abner very angry.  He said, "Am I a dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show kindness to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hands of David; and yet today you charge me with a guilt concerning the woman. May God do so to Abner, and more also, if as the Lord has sworn to David, I do not accomplish this for him, to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and to establish the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba."  He then became afraid of Abner because of these words.  Insulted and disgusted, Abner withdrew his support from Ish-bosheth aligning himself with David.  Abner sent messengers to David saying, "Whose is the land? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel over to you."   David agreed under one condition to bring Michal, Saul's daughter, to him when he went to see him.  David also sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son saying, "Give me my wife Michal, to whom I was betrothed for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines."  Ish-bosheth did as David demanded taking her from her husband, but her husband followed her weeping all the way to Bahurim.  Abner then asked him to return and he did.

Abner convinced the elders of Israel on David's behalf saying, "In times past you were seeking for David to be king over you. Now then, do it! For the Lord has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'" He also spoke to the whole house of Benjamin on David's behalf.  Afterward Abner along with his twenty men came south to Hebron to meet with David where he was welcomed warmly.  After they had made a covenant, they went their way in peace.  

Now Joab still had bitterness in his heart and had not forgotten that Abner killed his younger brother.  When Joab and his army arrived, they told him of the covenant of peace that Abner and David had made.  Joab was upset and came to David saying  "What have you done? Behold, Abner came to you; why then have you sent him away and he is already gone?  You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you and to learn of your going out and coming in and to find out all that you are doing."  Joab sent messengers to go after Abner without David’s knowledge.  When they brought Abner back, Joab murdered him.

This moment of fiery vengeance from Joab drove a permanent wedge between Joab and David.  When David heard the terrible news of Abner's death he cursed Joab and his family saying,  "I and my kingdom are innocent before the Lord forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.  May it fall on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and may there not fail from the house of Joab one who has a discharge, or who is a leper, or who takes hold of a distaff, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks bread."   David and all the people mourned Abner and buried him in Hebron.  The people came to persuade David to eat some bread but he instead bowed saying, "May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down."   Everybody understood that day that it was not the king's fault that Abner was put to death.  David's grief convinced the people and the northern tribes began to consider David as a worthy king.  He said to them, "Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? 39 I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too difficult for me.  May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil."


When Ish-bosheth heard that Abner had died in Hebron he was terrified and so also all the house of Israel. His two commanders killed him carrying his head to David.  They in return were expecting to be rewarded but instead David was not pleased.  He was distressed and said, "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?"  David then had the men killed. Then all the tribes of Israel along with the elders came to meet King David at Hebron anointing him as king over Israel.  He was thirty years of age and ruled for forty years over both Judah and Israel.  The LORD was with him.


INTERESTING INDIVIDUAL:  MEPHIBOSHETH

After the death of Ish-Bosheth, Saul still had one more potential heir to the throne, Jonathan's son Mephibosheth.  Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth was five years old when his father Jonathan and his grandfather Saul were killed in battle.  In those days those who were potential heirs to the throne were mostly killed by the king's rivals once the king was dead.  When Mephobosheth's nurse heard that Saul was dead, she immediately took him and fled.  Unfortunately in her hurry, she dropped him, crippling both of his feet permanently.  Mephisbosheth escaped and was raised by a wealthy family who kept his identity secret.

In order to fulfill his covenant with Jonathan, David began to inquire if Saul had any family still alive.  He summoned Ziba one of Saul's servants who told him of Mephibosheth.  David brought him before him vowing to protect him and take care of him.  David gave him Saul's estate inviting him to eat at the royal table as part of his family, II Samuel 9.

Much later, Ziba convinced David that Mephobosheth intended to steal his throne.  In response, David transferred all of Saul's estate to Ziba, making him a wealthy servant and leaving Jonathan's son destitute, II Samuel 16:1-4.

Eventually, Mephiboseth appeared before David dirty and in mourning begging David to believe him, that he never wanted to take his throne.  Uncertain and doubtful David divided the estate between Ziba and Mephibosheth.  Mephobosheth refused his half saying he would be content just staying with David, II Samuel 19:24-29.

In II Samuel 21, we hear for the last time of Mephibosheth.  It is when David protected him against the Gibeonites who were seeking revenge against Saul and his heirs.

  • David's Early Reign:  (II Samuel 5-10)
Immediately after David was anointed to be king, he set out for Jerusalem against the Jebusites in order to make the city his capital.  Jerusalem was his choice since it bordered the southern tribe of Judah laying technically within the tribe of Benjamin uniting the two kingdoms.  David took the city of David from the Jebusites who were a tribe of the Canaanites. He conquered them with little effort despite their jeers. He built it all around with cedar logs from the Phoenician king Hiram.  David built a palace for himself filling it with more wives, concubines and children, II Samuel 5:6-16.  He grew more powerful and the LORD was with him.  

When the Philistines heard that David was king over Israel, they went to battle with David.  When David heard, he went to the stronghold and prayed to the LORD saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?"   The LORD replied saying, "Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand."   David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them.  He said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters."   David named that place Baal-perazim.  He then took and carried away their idols.  

The Philistines attacked a second time and David prayed to the LORD and the LORD answered saying, "You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines."   David was able to defeat the Philistines from Geba all the way to Gezer with the help of angels marching in the trees. 

David again gathered all his men and all his people from Israel and went to Baale-judah to recover and bring back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark of the Covenant was of great importance to David. He believed in His God Jehovah with all of his heart.  He was wise in consulting Him continually.  And he steadfastly believed in the covenant that his God had made with His chosen people, the Israelites.  It was clear to David that the Ark was the most powerful symbol of that Covenant with God. When the sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio, were bringing the Ark back, they put the Ark on an ox cart. This was their first mistake.  They did not follow the instructions given by the LORD about handling the Ark.  Apparently they had forgotten.  This mistake ended in tragedy.  As they were bringing it back, Ahio was walking ahead of it.  David and his house were celebrating and rendering worship to the LORD with all kinds of instruments: lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals.  When they reached the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled and perhaps the ark wobbled so Uzzah a non-Levite reached out to take hold of the Ark.  That was the second mistake.  Uzzah was immediately struck down by God, dying beside the Ark because of his lack of reverence.   David was upset toward God when he heard this.  The place where this tragic incident happened was called Perez-uzzah.  Because of this David feared the LORD and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?"   He was afraid to move the Ark into the city of David with him.  Instead he took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite where it remained for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household, II Samuel 6:11.

When David heard that the house of Obed-edom was being blessed he decided to bring the Ark the rest of the way to the city of David with gladness.  The second attempt worked.  This time, the Levites carried the Ark properly as is demanded in the Law,  Numbers 4:15.  I guess they learned their lesson well!  By obeying and revering God, they were able to bring it back to the city of David.  Remember that God had set aside the Kohathites, a sub-tribe of the Levites, to carry the Ark.  God had demanded special rules for carrying and handling of the Ark.  The purpose of God setting these rules was in order for the Israelites  to never forget that God is holy.  The Ark was to be handled with reverence before the presence of the LORD and not carelessly.  After the Ark was brought, David celebrated by dancing before the LORD with gladness.  When Michael saw through the window that David was dancing with all his might before the LORD she became bitter in her heart despising him.  

When the Ark came into the city of David, it was placed inside the Tent.  There he offered burnt offerings before His Jehovah God and blessed the people in the name of the LORD.  But when he came to bless his house, Michal came out to meet him saying, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!"  David in defense said, "It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished."  Michal was bitter in heart and had no child until the day she died.

David's main wish was to build a Temple for the Ark in Jerusalem.  The LORD came to Nathan the prophet saying, "Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in?  For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle.  Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’  Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.  I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.  I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.  When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.'"  So Nathan spoke to David all these things.

Then David prayed to the LORD saying, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?  And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord God, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord God.  Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord God!  For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know.  For this reason You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.  And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods?  For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O Lord, have become their God.  Now therefore, O Lord God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You.  For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You.  Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.  Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord God, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.'"  II Samuel 7:18-29.

With the LORD's help David was able to conquer and subdue the nations that were around him, building Israel into a great and powerful nation.  David defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, King Hadadezer, the Arameans and the Edomites. He reigned over Israel with justice.  David heard about Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, who was lame. He restored Saul's land to Mephibosheth and had him eat at his table.  The King of Ammon humiliated David's servants and hired the Arameans for war. Joab defeated them and David defeated King Hadadezer.  II Samuel 8-10.


DAVID'S DOWNFALL

  • David's Sin with Bathsheba:  (II Samuel 11-12)
A much older man now, David sends his army to go fight against the Ammonites while he decides to stay home in Jerusalem.  David's biggest mistake was to remain at home rather than going to battle like most kings did.  One afternoon after his nap he decided to walk around on the roof of his house.  While he was there he saw a beautiful woman from his roof that was bathing on another nearby roof.  He was enticed by her beauty.  He immediately sent someone to inquire about this woman.  He learned that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a fine warrior in David's army.  But David had a problem.  He had gotten used to having whatever he wanted in regards to women, so without hesitation he sent for her and committed adultery with her and she became pregnant.  How ungodly from his part!

To make matters worse, when David found out about her pregnancy, he tried to cover it up.  He sent for Uriah to return so that it might appear that Bathsheba was pregnant by him.  But David underestimated Uriah. Uriah was extremely loyal to David and to his fellow soldiers and refused to go to his house and enjoy the company of his wife.  He argued that since his men could not go to their wives since they were in battle, neither would he. This was David’s own usual standards, "David answered the priest and said to him, 'Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?"'  I Samuel 21:5.  When David's men were in battle, they were supposed to abstain from their wives.

A frustrated David decided to sustain his cover up one step further in a horrible way:  he sent a message to Joab by the hand of Uriah demanding that he place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle knowing that by doing this he would die.  His evil strategy worked.  Uriah died leaving behind his widow, Bathsheba. When Bathsheba heard the news she mourned him.  After the mourning was over, David did not waste time. He married her immediately.  By the way, she becomes his favorite wife.  She bore him a son.  "But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord."  2 Samuel 11:27.


When this sad and sorry story is over, God sent Nathan, the Prophet to David saying on His behalf, "There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children.  It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.  Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."  2 Samuel 12:1-4.  Hearing this story, David was caught up in the injustice and burned in anger against the supposed man saying to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.  He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."   Afterward Nathan with a petrified pronouncement said to David,  "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!  Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.  Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.  Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'"   Notice that David had all the wives he needed or wanted but Uriah had only one.  This portrays a David not content or satisfied with all of God's blessings toward him.  He had God's protection and great abundance of possessions.  Instead of being grateful for what he had, he behaved as an ungodly man taking from Uriah, a godly man, the one thing he had, his wife Bathsheba.  How sad that David had fallen so low just to please the desires of his flesh!  

After David had heard the sentence for his sins, he repented admitting his sins before His God.  Here we see a broken David who had truly repented.  David confronted his own sin giving no excuses and no lies. He realized that according to the Law, there was no sacrifice that he could offer for his sins; only the penalty of death, Leviticus 20:10, 24:17, Deut. 22:22.  After David had admitted his sins, Nathan gave him the final sentence of God's judgment because of his transgressions saying, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."   Because of this transgression, David's family was going to be shaken to the core.  The son of Bathsheba would die and David’s other sons would pay bitterly for his transgression.  Even his own wives were going to be harmed.  It is when David felt so broken by his transgression that he wrote Psalm 51.  Notice verses 16-17, "For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."  Sadly, even though God had forgiven David, he still had to pay the terrible consequences for his sin.  His son died seven days later, despite his fervent prayers.  A broken David did not get angry with God when his son died but rather worshiped Him.  What a different David!  His brokenness had molded him into a much greater man.

David and Bathsheba had a second son who in fact received two names:  Solomon meaning "His Peace" and Jedidiah meaning "loved by God."   Something that caught my attention is that the dead son was unnamed, while the second son was blessed receiving two names.  Interesting!

After this tragic episode, David returned to doing what a king must do.  He led Israel against the Ammonites. Unfortunately some of his sons were now old enough to start causing serious trouble for him.

  • Amnon's Sin, Absalom's Revenge:  (II Samuel 13)
Amnon is David's first born who is awaiting to inherit the throne.  Like so many other stories in the Bible, if I had to rate Amnon's story, I would rate it R.  He found himself falling in love with his own step-sister, Tamar. With the help of a wicked friend, he came up with a wicked plan to trick Tamar into being alone with him. Tamar was a virgin and usually well protected by chaperones.  He pretended to be sick and finicky and demanded that his sister Tamar be sent to take care of him.  David sent her to prepare food for him.  When they found themselves alone, he raped her ignoring her righteous protests.  How repugnant!  

After this shameful crime was done, Amnon found himself hating Tamar even more than he supposedly loved her before and sent her away.  He would not be refused.  Now Tamar mourned bitterly the loss of her virginity.  She was desolate.  What a disgrace!

When David's third son, Absalom, Tamar's full brother, found out about Amnon's horrendous crime against Tamar, Absalom brought Tamar into his own house and took care of her as a kinsman redeemer would do. When David found out he burst in anger. Two years later, a vengeful Absalom had his men kill Amnon for what he had done to his sister Tamar.  What a tragedy in the family!  By killing Amnon this brought political advantages also.  With Amnon's death that meant Absalom was first in line to inherit his father's throne.  Absalom fled afterwards going to Talmai the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur.  He remained there for three years.  David wept mourning his son's death bitterly, but he also longed to see and go out after his son Absalom.  This is very moving!


FASCINATING FACTS:  DANIEL, DAVID'S SECOND SON

As far as we know Amnon was David's firstborn son, who later on was followed by Daniel and then Absalom.  Although Absalom was third in regards to birth order, he was apparently second in line for the throne after Amnon.

Daniel was the son in between Amnon and Absalom, born to Abigail.  For some reason Daniel was skipped in the line of succession.  One reason could be that although he was the son of Abigal, he could have been the son of Nabal, Abigal's deceased husband.  Now if this were true then Daniel would have inherited his father's estate, but would have no part in David's throne.  For whatever reasons there might have been, Daniel was not in line to inherit David's throne.

  • David Reconciles with Absalom:  (II Samuel 14)
David grieved bitterly over the loss of Absalom.  So Joab, David's commander knew of this and began devising a plan to reconcile them to each other.  His strategy with David was a little similar to Nathan's:  he sent for a wise woman who actually was kind of an actress.  This is what he told her to do, "Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning garments now, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but be like a woman who has been mourning for the dead many days; then go to the king and speak to him in this manner."  So Joab put words in her mouth.

This false woman went and spoke to David with her face bowing down to the ground saying, "Help, O king." David then asked the woman what was her problem.  She told him a story about a widow and her two sons.  In her story one of the sons had killed the other exactly the same way that Cain killed Abel.  The murdering son had run away but she wants to bring him back but is desperately fearing for his life if he ever returned.  David believed her story and provided an order to protect the murdering son.  The woman said to David, “Please let the king remember the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not continue to destroy, otherwise they will destroy my son.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”  II Samuel 14:11.  Afterward she reveals to David her true mission: to provide a secure protection for Absalom so he can return and be reconciled to David.  David agreed to allow Absalom to come back, but refused to see him face to face for two years.  Exactly the same way that Cain was allowed to live and not remain in the LORD's presence, Absalom remained an outcast from his father's presence and from his line of succession.  One day Absalom called Joab requesting to see his father, David, but there was no success so he attempted a second time and still David would not come to see him so Absalom sent his servants to set Joab's fields on fire.  When Joab found out, he was very angry and asked why he did it.  Absalom responded, “Behold, I sent for you, saying, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me still to be there.”’ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face, and if there is iniquity in me, let him put me to death.”   When Joab was forced to speak on behalf of Absalom this one more time to David, David relented.  So Absalom came and bowed with his face on the ground before his father, the king.  David kissed Absalom.

  • Civil War and Absalom's Death:  (II Samuel 15-21)
Absalom was not very happy when his father king David excluded him from the throne.  He resolved to take the throne by force.  With all his strategies he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.   After forty years, Absalom said to king David, “Please let me go and pay my vow which I have vowed to the Lord, in Hebron. For your servant vowed a vow while I was living at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord shall indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’”   David sent him away in peace. So Absalom went to Hebron and sent out spies to proclaim him king dividing the kingdom.   When David heard of this he found himself unprepared and defenseless and was forced to flee Jerusalem, leaving a priest and 10 of his concubines in charge of the city.  But he told Zadok and Hushai to return to Jerusalem.

When David came to Bahurim, he encountered a man from the line of Saul's family whose name was Shemei. Now this Shimei cursed David but David spared him. After many betrayals, counter betrayals and near misses, Absalom was able to enter Jerusalem.  Being advised by Ahithophel, he then proceeded to rape David's 10 concubines.  Notice that Nathan had predicted this earlier as a future judgment for David's sin with Bathsheba.  That is awful!

In addition Ahithophel requested that Absalom provide him with 12,000 men to purse and attack David. The wicked plan pleased both Absalom and the men of Israel.  Absalom called Hushai and asked if he agreed with such a plan.  Hushai advised him saying, "This time the advice that Ahithophel has given is not good.   Moreover, Hushai said, 'You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the caves or in another place; and it will be when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, 'There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.'  And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men.  But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance, and that you personally go into battle.  So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left.  If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there.'"  II Samuel 17:7-14. So both Absalom and his men agreed on his counsel being better than the one of Ahithophel.  The LORD had intentionally prevented Ahithophel's counsel in order to bring calamity on Absalom.  Then Hushai sent a warning to David.

Then David sent his people out setting captains over hundreds and captains over thousands under the care of Joab, Abishai, and Ittai the Gittite.  All the people were divided into three parts, a third under each commander.  David said to the people, "I myself will surely go out with you also."  But the people responded “You should not go out; for if we indeed flee, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city.”  Then the king said to them, “Whatever seems best to you I will do.”  So David stood beside the gate and all the people went out by hundreds and thousands.  They all heard David's charges given to the commanders regarding Absalom.  David instructed them not to kill him.

Then all the servants of David, went to battle against Israel in Ephraim.  David’s servants defeated Israel leaving 20,000 of them dead.  Joab disregarded David’s plea to spare Absalom.  As Absalom was riding away in retreat, his long hair caught on the branch of an oak tree, getting stuck.  He was hanging there between heaven and earth but still alive.  When Joab was informed by one of his men, he replied, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.”   The man in return replied, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’  Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”   So Joab did not hesitate and took three spears in his hand and plunged them through Absalom's heart while he was yet alive.  Joab and his armor-bearers killed him.  Now Absalom was dead!

Ahimaaz and the Cushite ran to tell David.  When David asked the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!”  This news sent David into deep mourning for his son.  As he was walking to his chamber he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”   Oh, this moves me deeply!  I can not imagine the pain of losing three sons.  

David kept crying with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  Joab could not comprehend why David was filled with so much grief over Absalom.  He said to David,  “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you, and by hating those who love you. For you have shown today that princes and servants are nothing to you; for I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.  Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go out, surely not a man will pass the night with you, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.”   II Samuel 19:1-7.

David arose and came to greet the people sitting at the gate and they all came before him.  At the time, the defeated Israelites were going back each to their tents.  They said to each other, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies and saved us from the hand of the Philistines, but now he has fled out of the land from Absalom.  However, Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle.  Now then, why are you silent about bringing the king back?”

David then called and told  Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the word of all Israel has come to the king, even to his house?  You are my brothers; you are my bone and my flesh. Why then should you be the last to bring back the king?’  Say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? May God do so to me, and more also, if you will not be commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’”  So he won favor with all the men of Judah returning their hearts to him as one man.  The men of Judah came to escort him back across the Jordan. Shimei and Mephibosheth came to meet him.

Now a wicked man named Sheba led the men of Israel to desert David.  David is forced to put down a revolt of the tribe of Benjamin.  Joab killed Amasa and besieged Sheba at Abel. The people of Abel cut off Sheba's head.  II Samuel 20.

There was a famine for three years, so David sought the LORD. The LORD said, "It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death."  So David called the Gibeonites  and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).  Thus David asked the Gibeonites what he should do for them.  In return they said, “The man who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”   II Samuel 21:1-6.

However, David spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD which was between them.  He let the Gibeonites kill seven of Saul's descendants before the LORD.  When David was informed of the sad vigilance of Rizpah for her son who was among the condemned, he respectfully took down the bodies and the seven and gathered the remains of all the other dead of the house of Saul and buried them in the graveyard of Kish, the father of Saul.  David avenged the Gibeonites, the Canaanites who had that special protection treaty with Joshua.  II Samuel 21:7:14.

Afterward David and his servants went to war with against the Philistines.  Ishbi-benob tried to kill David when David became tired.  But Abishai the son of Zeruiah rescued him striking and killing this giant.  Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel.”  II Samuel 21:15-17.

There was war at Gath again with the Philistines, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. He defied Israel.  But Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, killed him.  II Samuel 21:18-22.

  • The day the LORD delivered David from the hands of his enemies, he sang:  
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.  I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies... He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.  He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.  The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.  For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not acted wickedly against my God.  For all His ordinances were before me, and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them.  I was also blameless toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,  according to my cleanness before His eyes.  With the kind You show Yourself kind, with the blameless You show Yourself blameless; with the pure You show Yourself pure, and with the perverted You show Yourself astute.  And You save an afflicted people; but Your eyes are on the haughty whom You abase... He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.  He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your help makes me great.  You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped... Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name.  He is a tower of deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever."  II Samuel 22:2-51.

  • David's last words were:  "Truly is not my house so with God?  For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured... "  II Samuel 23:5-7.  

The everlasting covenant refers to the promise that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of David.  On his death bed, David regretted that his own house, in the immediate sense, did not reach that level of nobility worthy of such a covenant.

The closing verses of II Samuel 23 are a veritable Hall of Fame of David's mighty men.  Among them are the amazingly loyal three who brought him water from Bethlehem.  Of the three, the most honorable was Benaiah.   II Samuel 23:13-17.

  • Again the anger of the LORD was against all Israel:  II Samuel 24
In His anger, God Jehovah allowed Satan to tempt David to number the people of Israel and Judah.  "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel."  I Chronicles 21:1.  David regretted this action and confessed that he had sinned greatly in what he had done, II Samuel 24:10.  He prayed to God and God responded through the prophet Gad saying,  "I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”  So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, 'Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.'"  II Samuel 24:12-13.  David chose the third option because he trusted in the mercy of God.  So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. But when the LORD was going to stretch out His hands against Jerusalem,  He stopped.  David cried out saying, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”   II Samuel 24:17.  The next morning Gad the prophet came to David and asked him to build an altar for the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  When Araunah offered to give the threshing floor to David, the king refused to accept it saying, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.”  So David did as the LORD had commanded him and bought Araunah's field and made offerings.  This moved the LORD.  He stopped the plague against Israel.  II Samuel 24:18-25.  What a wonderful, merciful and kind LORD we serve!


We have covered the reigns of kings Saul and David in the two Books of Samuel.  In my next study, we will consider the reign of king Solomon in the Book of I Kings and thereafter the Divided Kingdom.  


Luci

Monday, August 4, 2014

IMITATE WHAT IS GOOD


"Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God."  
3 John 11


As Christians we have been exhorted to walk in a manner that is worthy of God.  That is to always walk in the Truth.  We are to imitate what is good and reject what is evil.  The third letter of John gives us many examples of good and evil.  Let us consider what John has to say about imitating what is good in our walk with the Lord:

  • John writes this letter to an elder named Gaius.  He begins the letter with a prayer on behalf of Gaius' physical and spiritual health.  His petition is that Gaius might prosper and walk in Truth, "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers."  3 John 2.  Lest we forget, our spiritual health must measure up to our physical and material health. There is no greater joy for the Lord.  Let us consider the following regarding our soul's spiritual well being:

    • In Mark 8:36-37, we have been warned we can lose our soul over our  material ambitions and pursuits.  
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
    • In Luke 12:16-21, we are told the parable of the rich fool who laid up earthly riches for himself but not toward God.  His soul was completely bankrupt.

 "And He told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.'   But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'"

    • Prosperity and wealth may be a curse to our soul.  There is a danger of falling into temptation and losing our soul.  On the other hand, if one is wise using his riches with the right attitude of heart, he can do much good for the kingdom.  

"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."   I Timothy 6:9-10

Imagine what a blessing it would be if we were to pray for each other the same way John did in this letter?  Consider some of the many blessing this would yield:
    • Many wealthy would become poor by enlarging their hearts.
    • Many poor would be filled because the wealthy would show the right attitude of heart.
    • Those who are in good health would accept the risk of becoming sick for the well being of others.
    • Likewise, many sick would get better.

My question is then, what about us?  In which of the above categories can you place yourself? Are we trying at all to be mature in our discernment of good and evil?  Why don't we let our righteous deeds be our judge?

"For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."  Hebrews 5:13-14.
"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep."   I Corinthians 11:30

Gaius was a man worth imitating.  He possessed many good qualities.  Let us consider some of these qualities worth imitating:
    • His soul prospered.  He walked in Truth  and in a manner WORTHY OF GOD. 
    • He rejected all false teaching of his time and followed the path of Truth, 3 John 3, John 17:17; Psalm 119:160.
    • Not only did he love the Truth but he put it into practice, 3 John 4; Psalm 86:11.  
    • He walked in the light, I John 1:7.
    • This love for the Truth was manifested in his life.  He bore good fruit, 3 John verses 5-6
    • He died to self by placing others above him, Romans 12:13.  
    • He supported those who preached the Truth by encouraging the church to support them since they were worthy of such, 3 John 7-8.

On the other hand we read of  Diotrephes who did not reject evil.  Let us consider some of his evil ways:
    • He loved to have the preeminence, 3 John 9, Matthew 23:4-8; 
    • He lacked humility of heart.  He was arrogantly hostile, 3 John 9, Proverbs 15:33; Philippians 2:3-5
    • He wanted to be the first and the head of the church, 3 John 9
    • He refused to walk in Truth and hindered many from walking the path of Truth, 3 John 9; Luke 11:52; I John 3:18; 2 John 1-3
    • His deeds were wicked, 3 John 10
    • His words were unjust, cruel, malignant, unkind... against John.  In a few words, they were intended to do harm, 3 John 10
    • He thought of himself above others thinking he was better than the rest of the brethren, 3 John 10

We, Christians, must learn to not imitate such evil.  We are to be humble not thinking too highly of ourselves.
"For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith."  Romans 12:3.  

We must learn to exercise the attitude of Christ in our life.
 "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."  Philippians 2:1-4

Our Lord and Savior died to himself in order to bless others.  One of Diotrephes' shortcomings was that he thought of himself as equal to an apostle, thinking he had more authority than they.  

"So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you."  I Thessalonians 4:8.  

Another example of his evil was the time when he accused John speaking against him in a wicked and unjust way.  

"But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks."  Ephesians 5:3-4

Let us not become like Diotrephes and lose our souls eternally.  He was selfish for not wanting to help and show concern for others but only for himself.  Finally, John said his evil deeds were going to judge him and bring him into punishment.  

I leave you with a question:   Which of these two men are you?  Are you imitating what is good or evil?  Are you walking in Truth being worthy of God?  Whatever your answer may be, it will determine the final destination of your soul.

May the Lord help us to walk in Truth and in a MANNER WORTHY OF HIM.  May we imitate what is good and reject what is evil so that we may see HIM.


Luci